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Cheap Eats

Hungry for good values, we combed through the Islands in pursuit of delicious meals for $20 or less. We lunched, we brunched, we wined, we dined. And we found you can eat well, accompanied only by a minted portrait of Andrew Jackson. The secret is not just knowing where to go, but what to order. So grab your wallet, and follow us.


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The Contemporary Cafe

2411 Makiki Heights Drive, 523-3362.

CHEAP EAT Bacon and Broccoli Puff, $12 and Bibingka $5.50
A sublime lunch setting rests in the mountains that peer over town, surrounded by old banyan trees, willows, and ... a monstrous metal bra? You’ll walk past the bra sculpture on your way to The Contemporary Cafe. We had the daily special, a crispy phyllo puff stuffed with hearty slices of bacon and broccoli florets, served with creamy mashed potatoes and a spicy tomato sauce ($12). We had enough money to splurge on the dessert special, bibingka ($5.50), a cakier version of butter mochi, drizzled with strawberry and toffee sauces, and topped with chocolate shavings. Open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

62-100 Kaunaoa Drive, Kohala Coast, (808) 880-1111.

CHEAP EAT Chinese Chicken Salad, $14
If you’re a Honoluluan holoholo-ing on the Big Island, chances are you’ll end up at the beach. The beach bar at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is open to the public, with umbrella tables poised by the pool, and serves salads, sandwiches and individual pizzas in the $9 to $15 range. The Chinese Chicken Salad is a mini-feast of favorite tastes—crunch on crispy won tons, slurp rice noodles, munch almonds and mandarin oranges in a sweet-tangy Chinese plum dressing. Fish and Chips, at the same price, features a different fresh fish every day. Toast with a cool glass of chardonnay and enjoy the killer view. Open daily, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with drinks till sunset.

Kona’s best-kept secret? The fresh fish at Honokohau Boat Harbor. photo: Macario


Honokohau Boat Harbor

Honokohau Boat Harbor, Kona, (808) 326-4166.

CHEAP EAT Fresh Fish and Garden Salad, $9.95
Kona’s best kept secret may be hidden at Honok-ohau Boat Harbor. A big, meandering open-air dining room with views of the marina, Harbor House Restaurant’s p-up-u, fish specials, hot entrŽes, sandwiches and salads range from $4.50 to $10.50, and all taste great with an 18-ounce frozen schooner of draft beer ($2.25 during happy hour, 4 to 6 p.m., 5:15 p.m. on Sundays). Our pick here is the dinner plate, piled with lettuces, shredded carrot and tomato wedges and three generous pieces of nicely grilled fresh catch, right off the boat—usually ahi, sometimes ono. If you’re really hungry, the fresh fish sandwich ($9.75) is good, too, with sides such as edamame ($2.75), poke ($8.95) or spring rolls ($5.75.) Open daily, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with drinks till sunset.

Waimea Ranch House

65-1144 Mamalahoa Highway., Waimea, (808) 885-2088.

CHEAP EAT Assorted Bruschetta, $7.95
Chef-owners Steve and Kim Greenspan have always loved now-trendy “modular dining,” where guests share tasting portions of several dishes. At their elegant-paniolo Waimea Ranch House, the antipasti items team up nicely. The assorted bruschetta is fresh-made three ways: with Steve’s hummus, spicy white cannellini bean with garlic, and Nakano tomatoes with kalamata olives and organic basil from their “landscape garden.” Add Caesar salad (yes on the anchovies) for $6.95, a stack of garlicky broccolini ($7.95), escargot Persillade ($8.95), and a couple of good wines by the glass, and you have two happy opu for about $40. On Friday night enjoy Hawaiian music by Frank Naope (Uncle George’s brother) James Kaili, and whoever stops by for kani ka pila. Open daily, except Tuesdays, for lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and dinner, 5 to 8:30 p.m.


Hukilau Lanai

Behind Coconut Marketplace, Kapaa. (808) 822-0600.

CHEAP EAT Awesome Shiitake Meat Loaf, $17.95
As one easily surmises from its name, the Hukilau Lanai is all about fish: mahimahi, ahi, ono, opah, opakapaka. But the real catch is the meat loaf. Made with Island-raised ground beef and Hamakua Heritage Farm mushrooms and topped with a fresh corn relish, this dish is definitely not your grandmother’s meat loaf, except for its generous serving size.

The $17.95 price includes a choice of soup or salad, a rarity on the island. We like to think of Hukilau Lanai as the friendly, younger sister of owners’ Paige and Russ Talvi’s high-brow Gaylord’s at Kilohana Plantation. Dinner Tuesday to Sunday, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.



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Honolulu Magazine November 2018
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